In recent months, the federal government has renewed its focus on digital security. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been applying pressure on both the private and public sectors to increase commitment to digital security and Secure-by-Design Technology.

While there is an eminent need for improved security protocols across the board, the technology to fill these needs in both government and civilian applications has already been successfully introduced in many industries. Rather than reinventing the wheel, the CISA Zero-Trust Maturity Model prompts federal agencies to introduce these tools to mitigate the weaknesses noted.

The Need for Increased Cybersecurity

The world of cybersecurity is evolving rapidly. Yet, despite the constant emergence of new threat vectors, data protection in many critical areas is fundamentally lacking. From major social media platforms to federal agencies, conventional perimeter security remains the de rigueur.

While perimeter security will always be an essential element of a comprehensive data security plan, even the most sophisticated perimeter systems are vulnerable to attackers that have found ways to breach the layers of exterior security. Likewise, insider threats often go unmitigated by perimeter-based security measures, as malicious actors may already have legitimate access credentials.

These weaknesses mean that securing data behind firewalls and “secure” servers is essentially an arms race between network administrators and people attempting to break in. This is particularly problematic when the systems in use have been around for an extended period of time, such as in the relatively outdated systems that many government agencies continue to use.

In recent months, these threat vectors have been highlighted by increasing AI-enabled threats. Even mainstream artificial intelligence programs can be used to exploit weaknesses in security perimeters. For example, hackers have already begun using programs such as ChatGPT to generate more effective social engineering attacks, exacerbating the extant threat to validated user credentials.

Addressing Weaknesses in Conventional Data Security

In spite of the vital nature of private data in government hands, many federal agencies continue to rely on outdated legacy systems to collect, store, and access their information. The implicit trust built into these systems is based on perimeter security protocols, where access and authorization are infrequently assessed based on fixed attributes.

To address the above (and other) weaknesses, a full rethink of how to secure data is required. Fortunately for the vulnerabilities plaguing many critical sectors, an entirely new generation of cybersecurity does exist: Self-Protecting-Data.

As a pioneer of this approach, Sertainty redefines how information is protected to ensure data privacy where perimeters fail. Using cutting-edge protocols and embedding intelligence directly into a Data-File or Datasets, Sertainty leverages patented processes to govern, track, and defend data by the data itself.

Instead of the file’s security being based on granted privileges to access the network directory where the file currently resides, Sertainry Self-Protecting Data files protect themselves against malicious activity immediately.  With these protocols, the data remains secure even when systems are compromised.

Prompted by the now-exposed cybersecurity realities, regulators recognized the shortcomings inherent to the state-of-the-art cybersecurity protocols. A 2021 Executive Order titled “Improving The Nation’s Cybersecurity” outlined the need for US federal agencies to move on to something better – a Zero-Trust Architecture.

Executive Order 14028 and the CISA Zero Trust Maturity Model

In April 2023, CISA published what is known as the Zero Trust Maturity Model (ZTMM). This security model is designed to overcome many of the inherent assumptions built into modern networks, contributing to their cybersecurity weaknesses.

This new focus is not simply a function of natural evolution but an answer to federal demands for better security. Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” requires all federal agencies to develop a plan to implement a Zero-Trust Architecture to address real shortcomings in current sensitive data storage.

Already, some agencies have been proactive in introducing a Zero Trust concept. In 2021, Representative Dr. Mark Green (R-TN) of the House Committee on Armed Services successfully incorporated the Sertainty language regarding data security into the Department of Defense 2020 DoD Strategy. Rather than calling for generic security measures, the language of the DoD Strategy favors the functionality that Sertainty technology can offer.

Private Sector Application of the Zero Trust Maturity Model

Regarding growing threats to data security, the private sector has not escaped direct scrutiny, either. This year, CISA director Jen Easterly criticized tech companies for their failure to prioritize the safety and privacy of consumers. While Director Easterly’s criticism was aimed primarily at technology companies, organizations in all industries are in need of enhanced data security.

While the CISA ZTMM model was specifically developed for federal agencies, many in the private sector took notice. The model provides an approach for any organization to achieve continued modernization efforts related to zero trust — which is crucial in a rapidly evolving technology landscape.

This need for Secure-By-Design technology goes hand-in-hand with the ability to create files with self-protecting abilities. Tools such as the Sertainty Data Privacy Platform allow developers to utilize cutting-edge methods and protocols in their applications from the outset, as well as apply them to existing systems.

Sertainty Data Privacy

As a leader in self-protecting data, Sertainty leverages proprietary processes that enable data to govern, track, and defend itself. These protocols mean that even if systems are compromised or accessed from the inside, all data stored in them remains secure.

At Sertainty, we know that the ability to maintain secure files is the most valuable asset to your organization’s continued success. Our industry-leading Data Privacy Platform has pioneered what it means for data to be intelligent and actionable, helping companies move forward with a proven and sustainable approach to their cybersecurity needs.

As the digital landscape evolves and networks become more widely accessible, Sertainty is committed to providing self-protecting data solutions that evolve and grow to defend sensitive data. Cyber threats may continue to advance, and security perimeter breaches may be inevitable, but with Sertainty, privacy loss doesn’t have to be.